stay tuned for "viewpoint" and john fuglesang right now. >> john: hugo chavez may be dead but he's a hero to millions for getting the american need ya to go a whole day without mention the sequester. donald trump has been deemed sufficiently unelectable to speak at cpac. "the daily caller" published a story that might not be true. senator menendez might not have hired a prostitute so maybe he is just not really a senator. today is the birthday of the late andy gibb, football hero fred williamson and everybody's favorite libertarian, pan gillette. john mccain vowed to block the celebrity all-stars until he gets the answers he wants on benefit -- benghazi. this is "viewpoint." >> john: good evening i'm john fuglesang. leading off tonight with a major
international story the death of venezuelan president hugh go chavez. the 58-year-old former paratrooper died earlier today following a two-year struggle with cancer. he served as venezuela's controversial president for 14 years. he used the oil reserves to promote what he called a 21st century socialist revolution at home and a bol verrian allowance throughout latin america. bolivar as in simon bolivar in the first decades of the 19th century. chavez became a close friend and supporter as has been well documented as fidel castro as well as other regimes mahmoud ahmadinejad was another chavez ally who was welcome in caracas. cha ez opposition to u.s. policies and his socialism didn't make him all that popular in washington, d.c. chavez even accused the george
w. bush administration of supporting an attempted coup against his regime in 2002 which the u.s. denied. and in 2006 chavez solidified those bad relations when he famously came to the u.n. and in a speech, identified president bush with satan. >> yesterday the devil came here. right here. it smells of sulfur, still today. >> john: tonight president obama released a statement on chavez's death that reads in part... >> john: at home cha ez was definitely and deliberately polarizing figure, much loved by the poor whom he cultivated with subsidies and much despised by the middle and upper classes whom he baited with glee. i'm thrilled to be joined by former u.s. ambassador to venezuela, mexico and zambia who retired with the state department's highest rank, career ambassador and is senior
counselor to the cohen group and by nicholas nikolas kozloff the challenge to the united states. gentlemen, thank you so much for joining us this evening. >> good evening. >> john: let me start with you, ambassador david. what do you think are the biggest misconceptions americans have about chavez? >> there are probably two. one is that because he was elected in what appeared to be free elections that he was committed to democracy i -- that's not true. during his rule, he pretty much destroyed all of the independent institutions of checks and balances in venezuelan, the independent judiciary independent electoral and autocratic ruler. the more misconception is that
he simply -- by giving money out to the poor. that was an important part of it. but he was also very charismatic and spoke to the disaffection of the poor with their own political system. >> john: i agree. i think you covered why so many in the world progressive community came to disdain him after originally liking him. what would you say? >> i slightly disagree with that. i think that he certainly displayed some authoritarian tendencies. he was validate by the carter center and others. you can argue chavez did encourage participatory democracy. i think chavezmo as the move is called arguably, you could say this is what i personally find inspiring about the venezuelan political project or the bol -- bolivarrian project at certain
times, he encouraged more grassroots democracy. so anyway, that's just where i would differ. >> i think we have a difference on the question of what is democracy and we can spend all night debating it. free elections are certainly the seat of any democratic system. if at the same time the democrat moves to end the independence of pretty much every other institution in the country in what we know as checks and balances, i don't think we can call that a democratic system. >> john: how do you feel about that? >> i think again, there are a lot of different contradictions in the bolivarrian resolution. i have been critical of chavez more from the left. i think that he -- he has hollowed out some of venezuelan's institutions. there is a problem with populous. chavez didn't groom a successor. there is a lot of charismatic leadership. that's a problem from a political perspective because there's no clear successor. on the other hand, like the ambassador says, it is a
definitional problem. you could argue he did encourage more grassroots democracy. he encouraged the communal councils. he's encouraging economic cooperatives. venezuela has the most vibrant cooperative movement in the whole world. so yeah, it depends on how you're defining democracy but that, to me mind is quite empowering. >> john: at the same time, crack down on independent media as well. >> i find it strange that all of the grassroots -- roots that you're talking about were 100% chavez supporters. that leads me to wonder how democratic and how vibrant and how flexible they were in terms of what we think of democratic thinking. as i say -- you can go on and argue this for a long time. >> john: i think we'll all be debating the many contradictions of this man for a long time to come but ambassador, you were actually ambassador ambassador
to venezuela from 1993 to 1996 before chavez became president but after he tried to cease power. did it ever seem possible to you during your time serving in venezuela that this man might come to power? >> well, what happened was when i arrived there in 1993, he was still in prison for the coup attempt. the new president of venezuela who came to power in late '93 released him from prison. and at first, it was unclear for several years what chavez would do. there are people close to chavez who indicate that he was actually trying to promote another military coup. it was not really until after i left venezuela in '96 that he indicated that he would play in the political game, form his own
political party and because of the fact that the other established political parties were so weak, he actually won the election in 1999. >> john: nicholas, what was chavez's appeal to the poor of venezuela over the course of 14 years and why do you think he tried so hard to alienate the upper classes? >> well, i think chavez was very -- was able to identify psychologically with the venezuelan poor. cha ez hails from the west of the country, the plains region. he speaks this colloquial spanish that's very common in that part of the country. very shoot from the hip kind of style which goes over quite well. he was an expert at media. he had his own show where people about would call in called hello president. he was able to identify with many poor venezuelans urban as well as rural. it is very characteristic of
popularrism. chavez had his own brand of populism. in populous leadership, you demonize your foreign and domestic enemies in trying to rile up the masses. and i think that rhetoric, that kind of rhetoric is very common with chavez and other in latin america. >> john: many progressives cheered his election because of his commitment to the country's poor. we've seen much of the world's progressive community put a lot of space over the past 14 years. what do you think happened? >> well, i think they turned away from him because what i mentioned before, his lack of respect for democratic institutions. i think it's interesting that one of the leading critics of chavez in venezuela is a man named pet cov who originally supported him. theodora petcov was an
anti-government guerrilla back in the '70s then a leading communist. he's a person who is committed to democracy. i think progressives came to see chavez in a negative sense for two reasons. one, because what i just mentioned about his turning away from institutions. secondly, he absolutely swayed away from venezuela. venezuela has been able to exist and carry on because of vast amounts of oil money coming in. but the productive capacity of that country, including the oil industry has gone down sharply. went down sharply during chavez's years. >> i have a slightly different perspective on this. i think you know, chavez, if anything didn't go far enough in challenging the status quo. i think there are these different political constituencies within chavez mow. some more socialist or anarchist
and so now that there might be a vying for power amongst the different constituencies and personally, i vink that chavez did not go nearly far enough. mentioned before the economic cooperatives. venezuela has the most vibrant cooperative movement in the world and yet chavez did not count his accomplishments after 2008. a lot of workers were looking for an alternative or you know, different kind of business model. and yet chavez was hesitant because you know, maybe he didn't want to alienate investors. so i think if anything, chavez did not go far enough in challenging the capitalist state although maybe i have a minority view on this. >> john: there's so much to talk about from gasping 12 cents a gallon to handing something to president obama one time. fascinating contradictory man whose legacy will continue to be debated. thank you so much, sir.
nikolas kozloff, author of hugo chavez oil politics and challenge to the u.s. what a pleasure to hear both of your viewpoints on this. i wish we could talk about it all night. thank you, both. consistent background checks of gun buyers. how hard could that be? we'll be talking to a u.s. congressman about it coming up next. (vo) from the underworld, to the world of privilege. >> everyone in michael jackson's life was out to use him. (vo) no one brings you more documentaries that are real, gripping, current. [ male announcer ] to many men, shaving can be a sensitive issue. but take comfort. it may not be you; it may be your razor. upgrade to gillette fusion proglide. our micro-thin blades are thinner than a surgeon's scalpel to put less stress on your skin by gliding through hair.
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candidate has been named to run the e.p.a. and we can bring knives on planes again. so what's on the schedule for senators john mccain and lindsey graham? reaffirming that they're going to block john brennan from running the c.i.a. just so they can talk about benghazi some more and ask questions that they've already got answered so maybe the tea party back home will like them. meanwhile, the senate intelligence committee just approved brennan's nomination, the c.i.a. needs leadership and just a reminder, the questions about benghazi have nothing at all to do with john brennan. senator mccain, senator graham, just so you know, the world is moving on without you. background checks are now squarely in the forefront. the push for university background checks has emerged as a centerpiece of president obama and the democrat's efforts to enact meaningful gun reform both because it is seen as having the best chance of passing both chambers of congress and because it meets the criteria of being common sense. however, common sense has been known to struggle in the hallowed halls of this congress.
right now, the fate of the universal background check legislation may hinge on senator tom coburn of oklahoma who was working with senator charles schumer of new york to hopefully forge some kind of bipartisan compromise. however, those talks have hit a snag as coburn has expressed concern that background checks, specifically a paper record for them may lead to a national gun registry. either that or he's more concerned about losing his a rating from the nra because as congressman mike thompson, head of the house gun violence protection task force pointing out -- >> if you disagree with background checks, the logical jump is that you believe it's okay for criminals and the dangerously mentally ill to buy guns. >> john: joining us now is mike thompson, democrat from the state of california who is mentioned as the gun task force. thank you for your time. >> great to be with you. >> john: great to you have, sir. let's get started. if universal background check
legislation is going to struggle to make it out of the senate, i gotta ask, does it stand any chance in the house? >> well, i think it is going to pass both the house and the senate and it will be signed into law. there are very few people who are on the defense of background check side in this debate. the american people are solidly behind it. and once the folks who are dragging their feet and those who claim now to be opposed to it start hearing from folks back home, i think it is going to be a whole different situation. as you pointed out in the clip leading into this, you can't be against criminals getting guns and you can't be against the dangerously mentally ill getting guns and be against background checks. that's the first line of defense. one thing we can do to check folks, to screen folks to make sure that guns don't fall into the hands of the wrong people and create problems in our communities. >> john: i examine tell you how nice it is to hear a
democrat say that. it is one of the things we haven't heard from any of our republican friends. what are the republicans and nra members doing to keep guns from falling into the hands of possible criminals. republicans are citing concerns over the formation of a national gun registry as their reason for opposing background gun legislation. do these concerns deserve any merit at all? >> cars not withstanding, there is no way that there's going to be a national registry for firearms. and the fact of the matter is most nra members believe in background checks. and most members of congress believe in background checks. i'm working with a bipartisan group in the house. we plan to introduce legislation. we thought later this week but with the snow and the majority party canceling the votes it looks now like it will be next week. it will be a bill to do background checks. we have background checks for all gun sales in california.
it hasn't slowed anybody down from buying guns. last year in california, they legally sold with background checks over 600,000 firearms. this is beyond common sense. it is the first line of defense. everyone is for this. very few exceptions. overwhelming majority of nra members are for it. police officers are for it. gun owners are for it. i myself am a gun owner and i'm behind this as are all of the people that i talk to throughout the country. this sunday, i was at an event where we shot skeet and trap. and everybody there talked to me about this and there were probably 200 gun owners, gun enthusiasts, people who belong to a club and break clay pigeons on their time off. they were in agreement that -- it is the necessary step that
should be taken. 40% of the guns purchased in the country today don't go through background checks. so only 60% of them do. that is tantamount to only screening 60% of the people that get on airplanes. it makes no sense. >> john: are proposing the armed person act of 2013. can you explain the goal and purpose of this legislation? >> sure. that's a different issue. but what's happened over time, there are a lot of people who legally purchased firearms. many with a background check. and subsequent to that legal purchase and taking possession of the firearm there are some folks who went afoul of the law, some folks have been adjudicated through the mental health system as being folks who shouldn't have firearms. they still have those guns. so what my legislation does is provide an incentive for states to come up with creative
programs to figure out how to remove those guns from the criminals and dangerously mentally ill people that have them. >> john: sir, we're just about out of time. are universal background checks and legislation linked to that, the most we can hope for? do you think there's any chance we'll see any kind of assault weapons ban or a ban on high ammunition magazines out of the congress this year? >> i think there's a slight possibility that we'll see more. i think certainly straw purchases and gun trafficking bills will pass. i think we'll do something in regard to mental health and school security. and i think we have an opportunity to do something with the high capacity or assault magazines. >> john: congressman mike thompson is head of the house gun violence protection task force. sir, thank you so much for your time and insight this evening. >> good to be with you. >> john: good to have you. now joining me for more on gun control legislation and what might get accomplished is ladd everitt, communications director for the coalition to stop gun
violence. good evening. welcome to "viewpoint." >> thanks for having me, john. >> john: great to have you. you and your organization have been following the background check closely. do you think this has a chance of making it through without the approval of senator coburn? >> i think there are other senators that can step in and fill the void. senator kirk from illinois is one person. senator susan collins has come on in support of the anti-gun trafficking bill that congressman thompson mentioned. so yeah, i mean i think there are other republicans that can step in and fill that role if needed. >> john: senator coburn is unwilling to sign off on the legislation. he's concerned it could lead to a national gun registry. is this concern rooted in reality or is it just a stall tactic to avoid having to give an opinion on the issue? >> it is not rooted in reality. i mean, you know, to be real, you know federally-licensed gun dealers in this country have been required to keep paper records of gun sales for decades. the federal government has to
destroy completed background check records within 24 hours and they're prohibited under federal law from creating any national registry of gun buyers in this country and there's not a shred of evidence to suggest in all of these years they have done so. so this is a red herring. it is a smoke screen he's throwing up probably to delay the process. >> john: let me ask you a dumb question, because that's what i do here. sir, what's wrong with the idea of having a national gun registry? we have one for cars and no one is coming to take your mazda away. >> that's a good question. it has a lot to do with the insurrectionist ideology that the nra and other pro gun groups promote where they're telling people that if the government registers your firearms and then that automatically means somehow that they're going to come dig down your door, confiscate them and enslave you and put you in a fema camp or something. again, to give another reality check on that, we've required people to license and register fully automatic machine guns in
>> it will take a long time to undo 35 years of damage that the nra has done to our gun laws. among the reforms we're now considering, it is a major reform. >> john: let me ask before we go, what other legislation would you like to see congress enact once we have the background check made law? >> i think the senate judiciary committee is going to come out with a very meaningful package of reforms. the universal background check is one piece but as congressman thompson mentioned, the other pieces would be this anti-gun trafficking bill which is also a huge deal. we are not tough enough on straw
buyers and gun runners in this country. and the other piece of course, is renewing the assault weapons ban and the ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines. this is not everything that we need to do in this country. these are the basic building blocks of a modern system of firearms regulation and things we need to do. >> john: ladd everitt is communications director for the coalition to stop guns. thank you for coming on the show tonight. >> thank you john. >> john: now how the nfl asks football players if they're gay without asking them.
>> john: today wtf america continues. wtf pennsylvania week with the story about high school. now, we all know thatted adolescence can be a difficult time, especially if you're an adolescent. the chambersburg p.a. school board is doing what it can to turn the precious adolescent school year into a nightmarish
trauma. the school board denied approval to a gay straight alliance club in chambersburg area high school. it is not meant to foster -- it is meant to foster compassion between straight and lgbt students and perhaps maybe help them mature as people and thus be better prepared for the outside world. also, this gay straight alliance club would negate the problem of bullying. i don't remember if i was bullied much in high school because i took so many blows to the head from jocks but school board member karl barton says there is insufficient evidence to show there is a widespread bullying problem in the school. except for the fact that it's a school. now this school does have a place for closeted gay kids.
the organization mental health america reports that gay lesbian, bisexual and transgender teens deal with direct harassment, threats and violence once every 14 minutes but to some people in the state of pennsylvania, that just means there were 46 minutes left in an hour when gay teens aren't being harassed. they believe they can do better. seriously, wtf. pennsylvania. ♪ ♪ try mach3 sensitive, with three high-definition blades. a closer shave in a single stroke for less irritation, even on sensitive skin. ♪ ♪ get closer to the one you love. ♪ ♪ gillette mach3 sensitive. gillette. the best a man can get.